7 Designers Predict What Comes After Shaker Cabinets (Which Are Officially Everywhere)
Cure your fatigue with flat panels and integrated hardware.
Published Feb 11, 2021 12:22 AM
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When something has been around for 200-plus years, you can’t call it a trend. Case in point: Shaker cabinets. The cupboard style, named for the Shaker community that immigrated to the U.S. in the 1780s, has withstood the test of time, mainly due to the lack of ornamentation on the doors. They can work in just about any type of home.
For the past two years we’ve seen a major spike in renovations that feature the utilitarian style, which is defined by its two-and-a-half-inch-thick rails and stiles. While top designers like Brigette Romanek “doubt it will ever truly go away,” fatigue is bound to set in as brand-new ideas like Tetris-inspired cupboards (pictured above) gain traction. So we asked seven pros: What will be the next It cabinet design? Read on for their three big predictions.
Shake up the thick rails by going with this slimmer profile option. “It’s a modern take on the traditional,” says designer Abbie Naber. You still get a sense of dimension and character (something a flat slab sometimes lacks), but it isn’t so in your face.
“Unless the client’s aesthetic is decidedly minimal, we crave texture,” says Jonathan Taylor of Taylor +Taylor. Lately he and his designer wife, Jess, have been favoring a mix of flat door panels, narrow frames, and beaded grooves (peep the island).
Romanek has been skipping knobs altogether, building the element into the cupboard. “Usually there’s a sharp angle at the top you can fit your hand into,” she explains. Besides achieving a super-contemporary feel, the custom decision might actually save you money.
Robert McKinley tested out something similar in his latest Hamptons, New York, bungalow, which features cabinets from Copenhagen-based brand Reform. With so much else going on in the room (like an over-the-island pendant light that doubles as a pot rack), the lack of metal handles lets the space breathe a bit.
“Personally I love a plain slab,” says Leonora Mahle. Her argument: The simplified style allows you to get creative with paint colors without fear of the space looking overwhelming. “They also make for a good counterpart to more elaborate backsplashes and stone counters with a lot of veining,” she points out.
Melissa Lee, the founder and creative director of Bespoke Only, has been loving the combination of these flat fronts with ornate antique metal hardware. “The mashup of eras is an unexpected mix,” says Lee. Picture drawer pulls you might find on an old armoire.
Shanty Wijaya of AllPrace is experimenting with different riffs on white oak cabinetry, playing with cuts, stains, and finishes. “It offers a wide array of personalization,” says the designer. In her latest house flip, she combined sawed-cut wood in two different stains (natural and smoked) from Reform’s Surface cabinet collection. There’s no need for extra definition—let the material speak for itself.
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